There is no doubt that vegetables offer the best balance of nutrients and are easily one of the healthiest foods. But are you reaping all its benefits?

The way you buy, store and cook them can dramatically alter their nutrient value. Read on to know how you reap its nutrient benefits by cooking vegetables the right way:

Buying Vegetables

Firstly, as soon as vegetables are plucked off plants, their nutrient value starts to recede gradually. For this same reason, seeking out local produce is the best way to retain most of its nutrients. Support organic farmers who don’t use harmful chemicals to grow their produce, buy locally in-season vegetables or get your hands dirty by planting some of your own favourite vegetables.

Storing Vegetables

The more you store your vegetables in the refrigerator, the more the degradation of nutrients, especially, vitamins. It best to buy fresh vegetables and use them as soon as possible. To preserve nutrient loss in the refrigerator always use the vegetable drawer in your fridge where humidity is higher and store them in airtight bags or containers. Avoid trimming or chopping the vegetables before storing them as this will also result in nutrient loss.

Tips for Cooking Vegetables

1. Peeling 

While peeling the skin of the vegetables, peel as thin as possible. The nutrients in the vegetables tend to be concentrated just below the skin. Overly peeling the vegetables before boiling can result in the loss of Vitamin C, Folic Acid and other B Vitamins. You can scrape peels of carrot, ginger, radish and gourd instead of peeling them.

2. Cutting 

Don’t chop the vegetables into very small pieces as this can destroy some nutrients when they come in contact with oxygen. Try to chop into larger chunks.

3. Soaking

Don’t soak vegetables in water. Almost 40 percent of water-soluble vitamins and minerals can be lost in this process. If you need to soak, try to use up the water to knead doughs or prepare soups and gravies.

4. Boiling 

The best way to cook vegetables is by steaming them in a minimum amount of water keeping the vessel covered. Cook on low flame to preserve the prana or the life of vegetables. When cooking root vegetables, boil them in water with their skins intact and then peel the skins after boiling.

This will help the nutrients to migrate to the center of the vegetables. You can use the leftover water as vegetable stock to cook gravies or soups. Don’t throw the excess water as the water will be rich in nutrients.

5. Overheating 

Avoid reheating vegetables as this can further degrade the loss of nutrients. Don’t use baking soda to boil vegetables. It helps to keep water alkaline and preserve the colour of the vegetables, but it also destroys nutrients like thiamine and vitamin C.

Avoid deep frying or heating vegetables for a long time. If they are cooked over 70 degrees Celsius, the proteins in the vegetables become hard and coagulated. This will prevent them from being properly absorbed and also result in the loss of other nutrients.

Grilling, roasting and stir-frying vegetables also retain a greater amount of nutrients as opposed to deep frying.

6. Preparing Salads

Prepare salads just before serving to reap its maximum benefits. The quicker you consume it, the more nutrients that can be gained from it. Serve salads in closed dishes to avoid overexposure to air.

The bottom line – No one cooking method will help to preserve 100 percent of active nutrients in the vegetables. Eat a variety of vegetables by steaming, boiled in soups, roasted, grilled, stir-fried or raw. Enjoy them fresh and eat as local as possible.


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